Quantum Intermediate Representation Alliance for Quantum Computing Development

Let’s mix open source, alliances, collaboration, and the future of computing—quantum—into a new Linux Foundation Alliance. This is more future than 5G and IoT, but this is something we need to pay attention to. It’ll be here before you know it. 

The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization enabling mass innovation through open source, today announced the new QIR Alliance, a joint effort to establish an intermediate representation with the goal to facilitate interoperability within the quantum ecosystem and provide a representation suitable for current and future heterogenous quantum processors. Founding members include Honeywell, Microsoft, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Quantum Circuits Inc. and Rigetti Computing.  

QIR, or Quantum Intermediate Representation, is based on the popular open source LLVM https://llvm.org/ compiler toolchain. QIR specifies a set of rules for representing quantum programs within the LLVM IR. Examples of QIR applications include using the standard LLVM  infrastructure to write quantum optimizers that operate on QIR and target it to specific hardware backends or linking it with classical high performance libraries for quantum simulation. 

“We expect there to be exciting advances in how classical and quantum computations can interact at the hardware level. The QIR Alliance will provide a single representation that can be used for both today’s restricted capabilities and the more powerful systems of the future,” said Bettina Heim, principal software engineering manager, Microsoft. “This will allow the community to experiment with and develop optimizations and code transformations that work in a variety of use cases.” 

Quantum development SDKs and languages appear and evolve at a fast pace, along with new quantum processors with unique and distinct capabilities from each other. To provide interoperability between new languages and new hardware capabilities and reduce development effort from all parties, it is imperative for the ecosystem to develop and share a forward-looking intermediate representation that works with present and future quantum hardware.

“Quantum technology is still quite nascent but the promise grows every day,” said Seth Newberry, executive director the Joint Development Foundation. “The QIR Alliance is poised to enable the open and technical development necessary to realize these promises. We’re very happy to provide a forum for this work.” 

“The Quantum-Intermediate Representation Alliance, also known as QIRA, is a key piece of the quantum computing ecosystem that enables quantum hardware suppliers and quantum software suppliers to reduce redundant efforts involved in implementing programming languages across quantum computer architectures,” said Alex Chernoguzov, Honeywell Quantum Chief Engineer, Honeywell. 

Oak Ridge National Laboratory
“ORNL is thrilled to be a part of the Quantum Intermediate Representation Alliance, which aims to develop a unified LLVM-based intermediate representation for quantum computing. A consistent IR of quantum programs will enable interoperability between quantum applications and hardware devices, making quantum computing more usable to researchers and developers. We look forward to contributing to the QIR specification and the associated compiler toolchain under this partnership,” said Thien Nguyen, Quantum Computer Science Researcher, Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Quantum Circuits Inc.
At QCI, we are very pleased to be participating in the QIR Alliance. The QIR approach represents a revolutionary advance in the representation of quantum circuits, enabling users to take full advantage of the unique capabilities of quantum computing systems across a variety of different hardware platforms,” said Tom Lubinski, Chief Software Architect of Quantum Circuits Inc. 

“Rigett has pioneered hybrid system architectures that are quickly becoming the predominant approach for cloud-based quantum computing” said David Rivas, SVP Systems & Services at Rigetti Computing. “The QIR Alliance is focusing on precisely the interface between quantum and classical compute, enabling rapid advances in quantum programming  language design and execution systems. We’re thrilled to be working closely with this community to design the necessary compiler technology and develop implementations for Rigetti hardware.”

About Joint Development Foundation
Launched in 2015, the Joint Development Foundation (the Joint Development Foundation) is an independent non-profit organization that provides the corporate and legal infrastructure to enable groups to quickly establish and operate standards and source code development collaborations. More information about the Joint Development Foundation is available at http://www.jointdevelopment.org/.

About the Linux Foundation
Founded in 2000, the Linux Foundation is supported by more than 1,000 members and is the world’s leading home for collaboration on open source software, open standards, open data, and open hardware. Linux Foundation’s projects are critical to the world’s infrastructure including Linux, Kubernetes, Node.js, and more.  The Linux Foundation’s methodology focuses on leveraging best practices and addressing the needs of contributors, users and solution providers to create sustainable models for open collaboration..

New Positions at Rockwell Indicate Strategic Directions

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Meanwhile, I spoke at the IoT Workshop of the Precision Metalforming Association and MetalForming magazine virtual IoT Experience on November 17. If you wish to hear a few thoughts about implementing IoT for fun and profit, tune in.

I’ve mentioned that I went to Houston last week to attend Automation Fair. I had a lot of work to clear up this week so far putting me far behind compiling my thoughts.

This article by Keith Larson of Control Magazine (Putman Publishing) summarized one aspect of the press conferences we attended. By the way, I loved the way Rockwell Automation put these together. I’m sure balancing virtual and live was part of the equation, but they kept these to a half-hour speaking to the point while allowing time for questions.

Keith points out three new senior positions that suggest new directions at Rockwell as CEO Blake Moret shapes the company for the future.

First up was Bobby Griffin, the company’s first chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer. Together with Becky House, senior Vice President and chief people and legal officer (another telling title), he discussed leveraging culture and DEI as competitive advantage. 

Another presenter sporting a newly created title was Sherman Joshua, global competency business director. In his new role, he’s working within Rockwell’s services group to create a more agile and flexible workforce. 

Last up was Tom O’Reilly, newly minted vice president of sustainability. He talked about how Rockwell was leveraging data to drive productivity and sustainability—both within Rockwell and on behalf of its customers. The ability of the Rockwell portfolio of hardware, software and services to increase efficiency and reduce waste on behalf of its customers is clear, but Rockwell itself has also improved energy efficiency and reduced waste of its manufacturing processes and is targeted the increased recycling and reuse of its products.

Keith was the first editor I met after I left manufacturing to become an editor back in 1998. Interestingly, he changed positions for a promotion leaving an opening which I filled. Indirectly, he is responsible for me being here. The people in this market don’t link to each other like the writers in some other technology markets do. But I have no problem linking.

Testing, Artificial Intelligence, Education

The “Subscribe” link on this page goes to a MailChimp sign up page. I have stopped using MailChimp due to its obnoxious marketing tactics. WordPress stopped its service of sending a notice of updated posts. I am now using the Web page and email service of Hey, developed by BaseCamp. Please visit world.hey.com/garymintchell to register for the newsletter. There is no tracking or other privacy-invading tech.

I hauled my ancient butt to Houston this week to attend Automation Fair in person. There were a few brave editorial and analyst souls there joining about 4,000 attendees. It sounded like the combined in-person and virtual event was a success with total registrations (I was told) at 16,000. It was a different experience partly because Rockwell PR set up no interviews. There were five press conferences. But each was limited to a half-hour. They made their point, answered questions, and then left. That was refreshing. I will have an extensive report next week.

I’ll be speaking at the IoT Workshop of the Precision Metalforming Association and MetalForming magazine virtual IoT Experience at 10 EST on November 17.

Following is news that has been accumulating this month.

FDT Group Announces Mandatory FDT 3.0 DTM Certification with Release of dtmINSPECTOR5

More FDT Group news following announcement of Steve Biegacki appointed as the new leader of the organization. It recently announced that all FDT Accredited Test Sites are equipped with the new FDT 3.0 dtmINSPECTOR5 test tool and are ready to accept new FDT 3.0 device DTMs for testing and certification.

Instrument suppliers can streamline development, testing, and certification to bring new web based DTMs to market. FDT 3.0 Web User Interface (UI)-based DTMs support next-generation monitoring and optimization practices by empowering standardized IT/OT data access to any authenticated client or mobile device, thus improving production workflow initiatives.

FDT DTM certification to the FDT 3.0 specification and UI is a process whereby rigorous compliance testing using dtmINSPECTOR5 ensures the viability of the states of the DTM; its correct installation, de-installation and multi-user environment capability; mandatory and optional user interface functionality and robustness; network scanning communication performance and the ability to import and export the topology; and the audit trail capability.

“Unlike previous versions of the standard, FDT 3.0 DTMs are required to be certified, while also meeting both specification and UI Style Guide conformance,” said James Loh, FDT Group test and certification chairman. “Compliant FDT 3.0 DTMs allow open access to intelligent devices and the myriad of information available from those devices, networks, and processes. End users will benefit from the new generation of DTMs as they provide monitoring optimization capabilities, including uniform data and NE107 status alerts to the user interface that employs a responsive design focused on mobilizing secure remote access independent of the device, system, browser, operating system, etc.”

The key to FDT 3.0-compliant DTM development is the use of FDT Group’s Common Components and dtmINSPECTOR5 toolkits. Toolkit licensing is required and provides all the standard code needed to meet FDT 3.0 specification conformance including OPC Unified Architecture (UA) capabilities, allowing developers to focus on value-add parameter profile customizations. Additionally, Common Components provides a fast way for development teams to view DTMs in an FDT hosting (Desktop or Server) application and understand the communication flow between them. With the toolkit’s WebUI, they can see how different DTMs work together across various machines and operating systems. The use of dtmINSPECTOR5 enables developers to run internal tests to identify technical issues prior to submitting their DTM to an independent test site for certification. The test site uses the same version of the tool to run conformance test cases and generate a report on their results.

Once a DTM is developed and has met all the mandatory testing and compliance requirements with a FDT Accredited Test Site, the certification files are compressed, digitally signed, and submitted via a private channel to the FDT Group Certification Office. The FDT Group uploads Certified FDT 3.0 DTMs to the FDThub repository for convenient storage and management. This repository, which can be hosted in the cloud or on-premise, is the result of user-driven demand for a single location to find certified DTMs and updates. The FDThub leverages the workflow from independent test centers to the FDT Group certification office so that all certified DTMs are automatically uploaded to the repository and made readily available to the end user community. This solution eliminates work for the vendor and is a key benefit stemming from the mandatory DTM certification process.

Verusen’s Artificial Intelligence Supply Chain Platform Now Available on SAP Store

Verusen announced that its Verusen Materials Management solution is now available on SAP Store, the online marketplace for SAP and partner offerings. The AI-driven platform works with the materials management module of SAP ERP Central Component (SAP ECC) and SAP S/4HANA.

Verusen’s AI platform reduces data complexity and improves decision-making processes to execute a faster, more efficient, and issue-free supply chain without the need for a slow and costly data-cleanse process. The Verusen platform includes network inventory, procurement intelligence, and strategic supplier alignment. By implementing Verusen’s platform, companies can transform their materials management approach and supply chain to better understand their data and balance operational and supplier risk at the most cost-effective level possible to find their Material Truth.

Verusen is a partner in the SAP PartnerEdge program after participating in the SAP.iO Foundry San Francisco program. As a partner, Verusen is empowered to build, market, and sell software applications that supplement and build on SAP software and technology. The SAP PartnerEdge program provides the enablement tools, benefits, and support to facilitate building high-quality, disruptive applications focused on specific business needs – quickly and cost-effectively.

IMTS 2022 To Go On Featuring Additive Manufacturing

IMTS 2022 will showcase AM solutions as part integrated manufacturing technology offerings in the Metal Removal, Quality Assurance, CAD/CAM, and other Technology Pavilions covering 1.1 million sq. ft. of exhibit space. Held at Chicago’s McCormick Place, IMTS 2022 will also feature more than 55 exhibitors in the Additive Manufacturing Pavilion, AM breakthroughs in AMT’s Emerging Technology Center, and co-located conferences with AM technical presentations. 

“The pace at which AM technologies accelerate makes IMTS 2022 a must-attend event,” says Peter R. Eelman, vice president & CXO at AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, which owns and produces IMTS. “Visitors will see AM solutions for production and high-volume part applications, tooling, workholding and fixturing that improve performance, lower lifecycle costs, and help reshore production. They’ll also be able to meet people pushing the boundaries of AM, including multiple technologies and components being developed for NASA.”

Benjamin Moses, director, technology at AMT, says that, “IMTS exhibitors and AMT members have developed new additive systems with extremely large print volumes, yet they deliver the deposition precision and repeatability that NASA demands due to in-situ metrology and closed-loop controls.” 

“Wire AM systems developed for aerospace parts are well-suited for tooling and other large components,” comments Moses. “In addition, modeling software developed to validate these concepts will help other industries build AM parts faster, at lower cost and with high quality.” 

Robot Education Opportunities

Two major recognitions of Universal Robots’ education programs from the U.S. federal Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute (ARM) and the State of Ohio’s Department of Education pave the way for schools and industry to further leverage cobots, offering employability in robotics careers while upskilling existing workforce.

Two recent endorsements of Universal Robots’ (UR) products and educational curriculum awarded by ARM and the Ohio Department of Education emphasize the importance of UR’s collaborative robots (or ‘cobots’) in today’s manufacturing processes and in classrooms; UR is the first robotics manufacturer to be selected for ARM’s new Endorsement Program as ARM reviewed UR’s Educational Robotics Training program. At the state level, Ohio becomes the first U.S. state to evaluate and add UR courses to its Industry-Recognized Credential List (where it sits at 6 credit points for the 2021-2022 school year and onwards).

“These endorsements mean the world to schools hoping to introduce hands-on cobot courses in their classrooms,” says Channel Development Manager at Universal Robots, Corey Adams. “The educational legitimacy of UR cobots opens the door to applying for both expanded federal funding and in Ohio also state funding to acquire cobots. And it gives schools confidence that they are not only offering students a diploma but also an instant career path.”

In order to make the Ohio Department of Education’s credentialed list, numerous companies in the state, including major Tier 1 automotive makers and home appliance manufacturers, vouched for the UR cobots, detailing how they use them on the shop floor and need an ever-expanding, educated workforce to deploy, program and operate them. “Ohio is industry leading in recognizing manufacturing technology and we expect this to quickly cascade out to other states as well,” says Adams who is actively working with numerous states in obtaining educational credentials.

The Department of Defense-sponsored ARM Institute is a 300+ member organization that catalyzes robotic technologies and education solutions to strengthen the U.S. industrial base and secure U.S. manufacturing resiliency. ARM launched the Endorsement Program earlier this year in conjunction with RoboticsCareer.org, the ARM Institute’s national workforce capability that connects education seekers with training for manufacturing careers.

At the Columbus State Community College in Ohio, the director of the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), Jeff Spain, explains how the college is now building a mixed lab space for cobots, that will focus on both professional development for manufacturing employees while also educating the next workforce generation to hit the ground running with cobots. “With their reduced footprint and intuitive programming, cobots have been a major disruption to industrial automation and are within that Industry 4.0 sweet spot of technology solutions that we find that our local employers need funded education programs for,” he says. “When large companies endorse UR cobots, it has a ripple effect through the supply-chains as Tier 1-3 suppliers and other industries realize that here is a vetted, nimble technology, that we have found offers low risk.”

Full Raft of Additive Manufacturing News

Additive manufacturing news has flooded my inbox during the past couple of weeks. Stratasys released a new software platform. Markforged has a new printer capable of printing a new fiber. Essentium introduces a new dual extruder. News releases follow:

1. Stratasys Ltd. introduced the GrabCAD Additive Manufacturing Platform, an open and enterprise-ready software platform that enables manufacturers to manage production-scale additive manufacturing operations.

3D printing at production scale also requires new software-driven operational capabilities, such as the ability to manage a large number of 3D printers across multiple locations, monitor output quality, automate materials management, and integrate within the broader enterprise. Traditional manufacturing solutions are not designed for additive workflows, which are digitally native, highly elastic and location independent.

The new platform provides Stratasys with the opportunity to strengthen its leadership position in the additive manufacturing industry through this growing addressable market.

The GrabCAD Additive Manufacturing Platform integrates applications and third-party Software Partners via the Software Development Kit (SDK). It enables two-way connectivity between 3D printers, additive manufacturing and enterprise applications, and broader Industry 4.0 infrastructure. GrabCAD applications in the platform include:

GrabCAD Print: Simplifies the workflow between Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) and 3D print preparation.

GrabCAD Shop: Cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) work order management application that simplifies the 3D printing workflow.

GrabCAD Print Manager: A new application that enables manufacturers to manage fleets of industrial 3D printers.

• GrabCAD Software Development Kit (SDK): Industry 4.0-ready SDKs provide API’s, documentation, code samples and support integration with enterprise IT as well as third-party applications for account management, asset management, planning and order management, security, quality management, and analytics.

2. Markforged, creator of the integrated metal and carbon fiber additive manufacturing platform, The Digital Forge, announces the FX20 printer. This new production-ready hardware prints the flame-retardant, high-performance thermoplastic material with ULTEM 9085 filament in combination with Markforged’s propriety Continuous Fiber Reinforcement printing technology for high-strength, heat resistant and higher performance parts that can meet the needs of the most demanding industries such as aerospace, defense, automotive and oil & gas.

Built to scale distributed global production, the FX20 is precision-designed and sensor-driven to deliver breakthrough accuracy, quality and reliability to fabricate parts directly at the point-of-need with the simple click of a button. As the biggest, fastest and smartest 3D printer Markforged has ever produced, the FX20 pairs size and throughput to make larger parts at incredible speeds. This new technology, alongside high-temperature printing capabilities, elevates the Digital Forge platform from accessible industrial-strength composite manufacturing to robust production applications. The FX20 has a heated build chamber capable of maintaining up to a 200°C temperature and the capacity to print parts up to 525 mm x 400 mm x 400 mm in size. The FX20 is up to eight times faster than the default print settings on Markforged’s existing line of composite printers and prints nearly five times larger builds than its next largest printer, the X7.

Bringing together ULTEMTM 9085 filament with Markforged’s proprietary Continuous Fiber Reinforcement technology will help manufacturers move from augmenting manufacturing operations with composite 3D printing to replacing entire segments of the supply chain by bringing strong, accurate parts that solve demanding, end-use applications right where needed.

3. Essentium Inc. announced it will debut its newest 3D printing platform, the Essentium High Speed Extrusion (HSE) 240 HT Dual Extruder 3D Printer, at Formnext this November featuring a new industrial design including a single dual extrusion print head.

At 1168mm wide x 795 mm deep x 1687 mm high, the HSE 240 3D Printer is small enough to fit in small and medium-sized factory spaces and university labs. It features automatic filament switching to reduce downtime, creating more parts in a compact environment. The HSE 240 3D Printer has three print modes that can create highly accurate parts from different materials in a single print without sacrificing quality and performance. 

Acquisitions and Further Industrial Software Consolidation

Lots of news coming in recently. One definite trend we’re seeing concerns consolidation of the industrial software market. This is a drip, drip, drip of announcements. When will it reach a tipping point and a big player comes in with a major scoop? The other news coming in yesterday to note is this acquisition by NI. This exactly fits the profile NI has established for itself over the past five or so years. It’s a good move.

NI to Acquire NH Research, Enters into Definitive Agreement with Heinzinger

NI announced the acquisition of NH Research, LLC (NHR), a leader in high power test and measurement applications such as electric vehicles (EV) and batteries. The transaction closed on October 19, 2021. NI is also announcing that it recently entered into a definitive agreement to purchase the EV Systems business of Rosenheim, Germany-based Heinzinger GmbH, a European leader in high-current and high-voltage power systems and this deal is expected to close in Q1 2022.

These acquisitions will expand NI’s portfolio of electrification (EV), battery, and sustainable energy capabilities to provide customers with critical power level signal sensing, capture and analysis. NI, NHR, and Heinzinger serve highly complementary positions in testing components used in the automotive industry to rapidly innovate to electrify vehicles. We believe combining the strength of NI’s flexible EV test platform with these companies’ power conversion and power supply test systems expertise will optimize testing workflows and enable rapid responses to changing test needs, accelerating time to market for a broader range of customers.

The focus of the acquisitions is to accelerate NI’s opportunity in high growth EV applications. Due to the complementary nature of these companies to NI’s priorities of innovation and meeting customer needs, NI expects that there will be minimal cost synergies from these transactions. NI is funding both these transactions through a combination of its existing revolving credit facility and cash on hand. These two transactions will represent 3 percent to 4 percent of NI’s total revenue in 2022 and be accretive to earnings per share. Approximately 150 employees will be joining the company.

“We continue to be intentional with investments where we see high potential to accelerate our growth. The addition of expertise and complementary capability from these two leading technology companies will help strengthen and expand our systems offerings to shared customers in the fast-growing area of electrification,” said Eric Starkloff, NI President and CEO. “These companies demonstrate our continued commitment to delivering systems to our customers who are facing a once in a career technology inflection in electrification. We welcome the employees of NHR and Heinzinger as we collectively accelerate our long-term growth ambitions.”

Software Market Consolidation

Infor (recently acquired by Koch Industries) announced the acquisition of Lighthouse Systems, a leading provider of manufacturing execution system (MES) software for smart manufacturing. The company’s flagship product, Shopfloor-Online, helps manufacturing companies manage and improve manufacturing operations across production, quality, inventory, and maintenance. 

Lighthouse Systems’ MES solution, which can be fully integrated into Infor CloudSuite ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems, will help Infor address a critical customer requirement of 24×7 manufacturing operations. For those manufacturing companies that are looking to implement ERP and MES together, Infor anticipates that its ability to offer a fully integrated solution “out of the box” will significantly shorten time to value for customers. 

“MES solutions are critical for manufacturing organizations that want to ensure data consistency and real-time visibility across all plant operations,” said Infor CEO Kevin Samuelson. “Integrating these capabilities with our industry-specific ERP systems will help us deliver even more powerful solutions to manufacturing organizations, as they look to digitize their operations and grow their businesses.”

Based in Crawley, UK, about 30 miles south of London, Lighthouse Systems has major offices in the UK, the United States and Singapore. Its approximately 100 employees serve customers worldwide in focus industries such as automotive, building & construction, food & beverage, life science, machinery & equipment, packaging, and sustainable energy. 

Lighthouse Systems customers include Ball Corporation, Formica, Lucite International, Nissan, Benteler, and the Timken Company.

Tim Barber, company director at Lighthouse Systems, said, “We are delighted to join forces with Infor to further the operational excellence initiatives of our manufacturing customers. We have 30 years of experience delivering MES solutions to discrete and process manufacturers worldwide. These solutions are not only key to executing production efficiently, they also are essential building blocks for smart manufacturing and digital transformation.” 

Lighthouse Systems’ Shopfloor-Online product enables smart manufacturing by bringing all manufacturing operations into one central software system, which is accessible 24×7. The system, which can be deployed in the cloud or on-premises, connects the factory with a single thread of critical data that is accessible at the shop-floor level and throughout the enterprise.

FDT Group Names New Leadership

Congratulations to Steve Biegacki for becoming the new Managing Director of the FDT Group. Glenn Schultz has led the organization for 13 years overseeing advancement and adoption of the standard. Biegacki was executive leader of the CIP/DeviceNet/ControlNet/EtherNet/IP group of networking standards. He is knowledgeable in the area, knows about everyone, and a proven leader. This should be a win for the organization.

FDT Group, an independent, international, not-for-profit industry association supporting the evolution of FDT technology, today announced that Steve Biegacki has been named the Managing Director successor.  Glenn Schulz, who has held the role for 13 years, had earlier this year announced his retirement with effect at the end of 2021. Mr. Biegacki will immediately begin the transition, joining the organization as Vice President of Marketing, commencing 1 November 2021, to undertake strategy, planning and collaborative work alongside existing leadership and working groups to ensure a seamless transition assuming the Managing Director role on 1 January 2022.

Biegacki’s 30+ year career has been in leadership roles working in and with manufacturing companies in the areas of sales, marketing, and business management developing and implementing strategies to deliver market awareness and growth. He was involved in the design, manufacturing, and delivery of technologies and solutions. Most recently, Biegacki has served as Director, Management Advisory Services for BDO, collaborating with industry clients to help them improve their business by helping them understand their market and opportunities, creation of goals and action plans, and KPI’s to measure progress and provide feedback, to ensure planned outcomes.  Prior roles include CEO at Kramer Electronics, Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing at Belden and Vice President of Global Commercial Marketing at Rockwell Automation. At Rockwell Automation he was also the Business Manager that led the creation, development and delivery of a single international networking standard known as CIP, the underlying protocol of DeviceNet, ControlNet and EtherNet/IP.

Biegacki resides in the United States. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering Technology from Electronic Technology Institute in Cleveland, Ohio and participated in the Executive MBA program at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.